Canadian Wildlife 3/3: ‘Extraordinary’ high-relief debuts with a polygonal animal portrait set

High-relief is without question the darling of the modern coin world. New minting techniques have made hitherto impossible designs relatively commonplace, and the mints marketing departments have certainly kept pace. Ultra, Max, Extra are all names that have prefixed ‘high-relief’, but now the Royal Canadian Mint have topped them all with ‘Extraordinary High-relief’…

Marketing nonsense aside, what the mint has achieved here is pretty impressive in a technical sense, and they’ve also used it to produce some genuinely neat coins. Comprised of three, approximately one-ounce silver coins released over the rest of the year, ‘Multifaceted Animal Heads’ reproduces portraits of three different animals using polygons (the geometric kind, not a dead parrot…). It isn’t the first time the RCM has taken the polygonal approach, but never with this level of ambition.

The first design portrays a wolf’s head using 435 facets (polygons) and extends out from the coin surface by an extremely (extraordinarily…) impressive 6mm. The design really is as simple as that. Nothing clutters the background other than a couple of inscriptions, so the focus is the animal itself. You can see in the video further down how light reflects across the different facets. October will see a 498 facet bear coin, while December will wrap up the set with a 450 facet lynx.

While the three designs are very similar in style, they’re actually done by three different artists. The wolf is by Claude Thivierge, the bear by Alex Tirabasso, and the lynx by Traian Georgescu. A box to hold the set comes free with the first coin and the mintage has been capped at 2,500 sets. The coins cost $139.95 CAD each and the first issue is available to order now. A subscription service is available to ensure you don’t miss out on future entrants.


Extraordinarily-high relief (EHR) goes beyond what high and even ultra-high relief techniques can accomplish and elevates the subject matter to around 6 mm. The striking visual effect of each coin in your series that becomes more of a sculpture than a simple embossing is given an exceptional brilliance with innovative proof finish, making the silver shine like never before. Each coin features a multifaceted design built out of 435 polygons on the first coin, 498 on the second, and 450 on the third, that are crafted in proof finish to make each coin sparkle like a diamond.

REVERSE: The reverse sculpture by Claude Thivierge features a multifaceted wolf head built out of 435 polygons. The three-dimensional form protrudes from the flat coin, invoking both nature and geometry in its execution. The EHR plays an integral part of the design, introducing the coin as the first of its kind in the world – sharp, brilliant and doing away with the conventional flatness of minting. The obverse features the effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Susanna Blunt.

PACKAGING: The coins are encapsulated and presented in a Royal Canadian Mint-branded display case so that you can view all your coins.

COMPOSITION 0.9999 silver
WEIGHT 31.3 grams
MODIFICATIONS Extraordinary High-relief
BOX / COA Yes / Yes